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I'm deciding on a Masters in international affairs/development studies and would appreciate any advice anyone has.

Johns Hopkins seems to be the most prestigious but offered me no funding, and Tufts seems to be of a similar caliber and offered me some funding but is in Boston and I don't have housing there so that would be an additional cost.

Does anyone have any insight on the difference between GW and American? They are my most affordable options. I have family in DC so can live rent-free there.

Is SAIS at Johns Hopkins worth going into significant debt? 

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First off, congrats! those are some amazing schools!

Also, you might want to check out the "government affairs" sub-forum, they are more equipped to answer these types of questions, with many posters going through similar situations.

But to try and answer your question, I would say that the rule of thumb is to not go into debt for an MA degree, especially in the IR/government affairs field. Unfortunately those types of careers do not pull in the six figures that are required to pay off significant debt early on, so while you could eventually end up making that much, it won't happen during the early part of your career. A large amount of debt hanging over you can stop you from getting a car or home loan, not allow you to build up savings, and can limit the cities you can move to. 

Now to answer your GW v American debate, those schools are pretty similar in both location and prestige, while I am personally more into GW, thats only because of a positive personal experience with the Elliot school over there, while a more negative/neutral experience with the SIS over at AU. But ultimately you'll have to make that decision yourself. I suggest visiting and talking to faculty or students, also, looking at the specific degrees. I know that the Elliot school offers a wide variety of degrees, some regionally specific and some more general to IR, I am sure that AU offers something similar. Were you admitted to just the general IR programs? or more regional/career specific? 

Hope this helps! but congrats again on some amazing admissions! 

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